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UNISFA - Local communities in Abyei share great expectations with UN Officials

Under the terms of Security Council resolution 1990 (2011) of 27 June 2011, UNISFA would monitor and verify the redeployment of any Sudan Armed Forces, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM) or its successor from the Abyei area; “henceforth, the Abyei area shall be demilitarized from any forces other than UNISFA and the Abyei Police Service,” it added. The resolution also charged the interim force with facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid and the free movement of relief workers in and around Abyei. When necessary, and in coordination with the Abyei Police Service, UNISFA troops would also provide security for the region’s oil infrastructure. 
On 14 December 2011, recognizing the urgent need for Sudan and South Sudan to commence the process of border normalization, the Security Council, by its resolution 2024 (2011), decided to broaden the mandate of the UNISFA to include assistance in that process, including supporting the development of effective bilateral management mechanisms, facilitating liaisons and building mutual trust. 
The Council urged Sudan and South Sudan to implement fully their commitments under the agreements of 29 June 2011, which concerned the creation of a safe demilitarized border zone, and 30 July 2011, dealing with establishment of a Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, and urged them to cooperate fully with each other and provide full support to UNISFA. 
On 29 May 2013, the Security Council, by resolution 2104, increased the authorized military strength of the Force and decided that support for the operational activities of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism would include support to the Ad Hoc Committees.

“UNPOL engages community leaders, religious leaders included (Christians and Muslims) for peace building and reconciliation,” a representative of local communities in Abyei told Alexander Zuev, UN Assistant Secretary General for the Rule of Law and Security Institutions and UN Police Adviser Luis Carrilho. The two officials paid a visit to the Amiet Common market in Abyei earlier this week.

The Amiet Common Market is an economic hub in a region where the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka communities co-exist thanks to the offices of United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). The UN Force was established in 2011 for the disputed oil rich area of Abyei. It has been tasked with monitoring the flashpoint border between north and south, maintenance of law and order and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid.


The security situation has significantly evolved since 2011. The Amiet Common market reopened on 19 July 2017 after an agreement was reached between the leaders of both communities on several issues regarding the market’s operations, including reorganizing layout, accommodating traders, as well as the security situation along the north-south road leading to Amiet. The market plays an essential role in the daily lives of people in Abyei and the surrounding villages both for the Misseriyas and the Ngok Dinkas.


Among various tasks such as providing security and supporting efforts to ensure social cohesion in the region, UN Police carries out interactive patrols with the community, provides training on crime prevention and sensitization on Human Rights, in addition to engaging women of both Messeriya and Ngok Dinka communities to participate in peace building initiatives.


Yet, local communities have greater expectations. "We are hopeful that the joint institutions and the national police service which are very much needed will soon come to Abyei,” they told Mr. Zuev and UN Police Adviser Carrilho.


UNISFA created the conditions for the two communities to interface through their traditional leadership and peace committees to enable a return to trading activity.


Both Mr. Zuev and UN Police Adviser Luis Carrilho committed continuous support to the grassroot conflict resolution mechanism in place. To that end, they held meetings with the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka community leaders in Diffra and Abyei town respectively.


Discussions were mainly focused on strengthening the cooperation between UNISFA, UNPOL and the community for efficient and effective peacebuilding and peacekeeping.